Motors with Tony Conlon: Mercedes new GLC holds all the power

While the Mercedes-Benz stable offers a choice of six all-electric vehicles, including the classy EQE and EQS saloons, the German manufacturer still offers a choice of petrol and diesel variants, but now with a mix of hybrid technology.

Take the latest Mercedes GLC. Power for this SUV is provided by four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, four mild hybrid units and three plug-in hybrid variants which include an all-electric driving mode with a range of more than 129km (WLTP - worldwide harmonized light vehicle test procedure).

My test model was powered by a 2.0 litre diesel engine combined with a 48-volt electric mild hybrid system that boosts economy. This car truly opened my eyes to the advances that have been achieved from both a performance and economy perspective. It also caused me to stare at its driver display in disbelief.

The reason? This car was offering me a driving range of over 1,000km when I sat in. These days and with so many electric vehicles (EVs) on the test fleet, a driving distance of 400km has become the norm. But over twice that was guaranteed to bring a smile to my face. And it wasn’t the only thing I liked about the GLC, a vehicle that is basically a 4Matic all-wheel-drive, SUV version of the C-Class Mercedes.

Very refined even in diesel guise, this car’s power adds up to 197hp and 440Nm with up to 17kW and 200Nm of electric support from the integrated starter-generator. In performance terms, this allows for a 0-100km/h time of eight seconds and a claimed top speed of 219km/h.

Sixty millimeters longer than the older version, driving this Merc gave me great confidence because of the good feedback it relayed through the steering wheel from the mixture of road surfaces on which it travelled. It proved to be very comfortable and offered positive handling despite its higher centre of gravity.

Credit must be given to the excellent chassis and suspension set-up. Sampling the different driving modes but driving mostly in the eco setting offered fuel returns which varied from 5.9 l/100km (47mpg) to 6.5 l/100km (43mpg). There is an automatic nine-speed G-Tronic transmission and I have no reason to doubt the claimed towing capacity of 2.5 tonnes.

Sitting on optional 20-inch AMG 10-spoke alloys (€2,078 extra), the test GLC was painted a ‘special blue metallic’ colour which again costs an additional €1,601.

Designed in order to create a balance between elegance and off-road capability (according to the manufacturer), the GLC simply looked stunning. Its build quality is outstanding, and I particularly admired the car’s muscular wheel arches, wide track, the new chrome-embellished radiator grille and the pretty star pattern.

The new front-end has headlamps that connect to the grille, and the ‘star’ pattern detail is repeated on sleek new taillight lenses.

The GLC I drove sported optional aluminum-look running boards, but I feel this additional spend of €931 might only lead to getting trousers or dresses dirty while getting in or out of the car on mucky ground.

While I have focused a bit on the optional extras, I should add that the car’s standard equipment has been significantly upgraded with a specification value increase of €16,703 compared to the previous GLC.

Inside, the driver is surrounded by luxury features and high-end technology. The brightness of the cabin was thanks to a nice sliding panoramic sunroof which costs an additional €2,809.

If you’re the type who does not have to count every cent, then I’d recommend splashing out for this optional creature comfort.

Other interior features include the latest generation intelligent digital MBUX infotainment system, and the "Hey Mercedes" voice assistance which bows to almost all commands except "Put the kettle on."

I loved the multi-function steering wheel, the large, easy-to-use central display, its clear driver display and all the standard equipment that even included many AMG packages such as the mirror package which offers 64 different colours of ambient lighting.

The latest GLC is practical as well as gorgeous to look at - its boot capacity has increased by 70 litres to 620 litres.

While the seating is sport orientated, I found it important to take time to find the best and most comfortable driving position via the multiple electrical seat adjustment. When you do put it in memory mode, you will always have it.